By, Kelsey Houlihan '11
Tamara Inoue knows a thing or two about assists. The Bronco women's basketball assistant coach led the Big West Conference in that category during her playing career at Long Beach State. Now as a coach, she aims to assist her players in setting and achieving personal and team goals.
"Coach Inoue believes in all of her players," said junior guard Alyssa Shoji. "That belief in itself motivates you to step your game up. She never wants any of us to fall short, and she loves seeing us succeed."
Inoue specializes in coaching guard play, scouting and recruiting, and works closely with the other coaches to ensure that the program is set up for success. "Every day in practice she talks about the little things that players try and get away with," said Shoji. "But she knows that executing the little things makes all the difference."
And succeeding at the little things has helped Inoue accomplish very big things as both a player and a coach. At Long Beach State, she helped lead the 49ers to the WNIT by shooting 45 percent from the field and 35 percent from three-point land.
After getting her degree, she spent six years playing and coaching Down Under in Australia's Victorian Basketball League. She won the VBL's 'Coach of the Year' award, and the following season led her team to the national championship game.
Those six years allowed Inoue to understand the geographical nuances of the sport. "Australia has a much more offensive oriented game, requiring more finesse," said Inoue in a recent interview. "It's much less physical and there really isn't much back to the basket play."
Beyond understanding technicalities of basketball, Inoue also cares deeply about her players as individuals. "She wants to help us succeed in more than just basketball," said sophomore guard Meagan Fulps. "Our program immensely benefits from having her, and she will do anything she possibly can to help our program succeed."
This diverse basketball pedigree and personal investment in players has made Inoue a premier recruiter, helping the Broncos ink a top 50 recruiting class for the upcoming season. Inoue believes it's crucial to find talent early, and to ensure that the staff is following up with the recruit throughout the year, but she comments, "Once that relationship is established, Santa Clara's education, student life and location really sells itself."
Inoue is certainly destined for many more successful seasons from the Bronco's bench, and she promises the team will be ready to play in the first game of the WCC tournament. "You can trust that the girls will be pushed to their limit and ready for the challenge required. No one wants to be done early."